James Courtney wins season-opening V8 Supercars feature in Adelaide; ex-NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose 12th

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Following sprint race wins from defending series champion Jamie Whincup and Fabian Coulthard, James Courtney scored the feature win earlier this morning at the V8 Supercars’ season-opening event in Adelaide, Australia.

Courtney repelled a hard charge from Shane van Gisbergen in the final laps to win by three-quarters of a second. Courtney’s teammate, Garth Tander, rounded out the feature podium.

Thanks to his feature win and runner-up finish behind Coulthard in Race 2, Courtney took an early lead in the Supercars championship over Coulthard by a 17-point margin. Reigning V8 king Whincup leaves Adelaide fifth in the standings (42 points behind Courtney) after a win, a 21st in Race 2, and then a fourth in the feature.

As for ex-NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose, he finished 12th in the feature after cracking the Top-10 on the grid. He finished 16th in each of the preceding two races in Adelaide.

Ambrose steadily made up ground throughout the 250km feature, but a fuel strategy did not work out as well as he and his DJR Team Penske squad had hoped.

“We really did have a Top 10 car today, but our fuel strategy did not work as we put in more than we needed to and it tumbled us down the order a bit too far,” said Ambrose, who returns to V8 racing this season after a nine-year run in NASCAR. “The qualifying this morning was a big lift to me and the team. The DJR Team Penske boys were working hard and I felt the car was a better race car today, for sure.”

The V8s return to action in an non-points event during the March 13-15 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park in Melbourne. The next championship event is March 27-29 in Ambrose’s home state of Tasmania.